Interview with the Family Literacy program (FLY) in Hamburg, 2010 UNESCO Literacy Prize Laureate

FLY Programme/ Parents and Children wrote and painted together

What did it mean to win the ILD prize and how has it helped influence your work?

  • The program Family Literacy (FLY) in Hamburg started in 2004 with 9 sites as a pilot-project. The pilot-project (FörMig) lasted for 5 years
  • The UNESCO Prize (2010)just came at the right time to motivate the Hamburg Ministry of Education to implement the program on a long term basis
  • Since 2009, the Hamburg Ministry of Education has continued and up-scaled the program
  • Presently, there are 223 FLY learning groups in 70 schools
  •  Meanwhile the FLY project is a model for a successful transfer from a pilot project to an institutionalized policy-integrated program
  • At the moment we are working on integrating the FLY concept into the major program of inclusion in all Hamburg schools. This probably will put FLY on a much broader level and gradually will support to open the schools to their neighborhoods, and build up a network between other projects working on the support of families, Literacy programs and Life-Long-Learning

Tell us about a literacy project that means a lot to you currently, what are you doing on the field? 

Since the beginning of this year we started a Cooperation with the “Family Literacy project in Nepal”

Cooperation with the colleagues in Nepal is really fruitful and both sides (colleagues and families in Nepal and colleagues and families in Germany) are learning  from each other.

What is one number/statistic that you would like to draw attention to for ILD and why?

 The quantitative overview is showing the development of the schools involved and the FLY-Learning groups in Hamburg. It is also important to mention that all schools decide on a voluntary basis to implement the FLY-concept at their school.


Number of FLY-Schools         

Number of FLY Learning groups



















What is your message/call to action for ILD? 

I would rather like to quote a FLY-facilitator and some mothers and children instead of answering myself because they clearly and authentically demonstrate a message from FLY to ILD and express that there is a big chance to change attitudes positively by this approach for all people involved. 

Feedback of a FLY-Facilitator: 

“ Dear Mrs. Rabkin,

I am so pleased to write about my best experience in FLY“ for  you and I hope it is suitable in your context:

In the school-year 2010/11 I asked every week parents of a preschool kid to join the Family Literacy class. Many weeks they refused to come. One day surprisingly the mother appeared in school, stayed in the classroom and was “persuaded” to have a cup of tea together with some other mothers. This morning she told these women about the death of her daughter (11 months), which she was visiting during the last weeks daily in hospital. There were so many tears wept during the following FLY- meetings and the women developed a wonderful network among each-other.  A Turkish, especially dynamic woman took care of the mourning mother. She began to hurry from foundation to foundation, from church to church until she had collected enough money to make it possible that the mother could fly together with her preschool-child to her homeland in Ghana to get comfort and support from her family there. For the mourning mother the FLY-group was the only place where she could talk about her grief. She did not even miss one day. 

I am still so happy about all the good things which became only possible by the FLY-project. I am glad about the close contacts among the women, about the questions they asked and about the interest towards their children, which they could show there.

[…]I am not sure if this is something suitable for the context you asked for but actually I wanted to tell you about this already long time.

With warm regards yours

Katrin Albers,

School “Rahlstedter Höhe”,


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